MIAMI - With cruising on pause, Carnival Corp. CEO Arnold Donald said the company’s eight brands are taking the opportunity to improve upon every aspect of their business, including relationships with travel advisors.
“We are taking advantage of this pause,” Mr Donald said. “Personally, I spend a lot of time talking to travel professionals to say, ‘Look, when we come out of this, we want to be even better in supporting your business than we were before. So, you tell me some of the things we can do differently.’
“I’ve engaged with them and they’ve given me comments and thoughts on what we can do right now during the pause and after. And we’re going to incorporate all that stuff.”
Mr Donald said the conversations he’s had with the trade have been more open and direct than in the past, for which he is grateful.
“We do this all the time but it’s different being in this environment,” he said. “Everybody is being a little more raw, they’re saying, ‘Here’s the deal.’ They’re not posturing, not positioning, not negotiating. They’re being open and saying, ‘Here’s really what I see and how I feel.’
“Everyone feels we’re in this together and we’ve got to talk turkey here. It’s an even higher level of candour and openness.”
Mr Donald also sought to reassure the trade while acknowledging their pain.
“This is a brutal shock to everyone,” he said. “It’s been devastating for the travel and tourism industry. And while we are still here as a company and we will be vibrant and over time be back to where we were, going through it has been awful.
“We will come out of it. If people can find a way to hang in there, to take a pause and just get through it, it will come back. We have an unbelievable experience for guests, a tremendous value relative to other forms of vacation and holiday travel. And it’s going to come back.
“But they have to survive the pause. We’ve done what we can in terms of honouring commission on cancelled cruises and FCCs and to try to provide some support for the travel professionals out there.
“And we’re pulling for them all. It’s a tough situation but the future will be bright.”
Mr Donald said that under the mantra of “don’t let a crisis go to waste”, Carnival is looking at every aspect of its business and taking advantage of not having to take care of 13 million passengers.
The company’s main objective over the past few months has been the monumental task of repatriating its tens of thousands of crew members, an ongoing process that is winding down.
“Now we are beginning to move into a phase where we can plan for the future,” he said.
Mr Donald has been in conversations with destinations and ports, talking to the prime ministers and tourism ministers around the world, to understand how to improve their partnerships.
Internally, the brands are looking “at everything we do. How can we be more impactful in what we do, more efficient in what we do, and what can we do to further enhance the guest experience”.
Mr Donald believes the industry and Carnival Corp. will be stronger when this crisis ends but said it will take time.
“We’ll be back and be back strong,” he said. “We have to be a little patient now and not jump the gun and not have all the answers at once. We have a sense of urgency, but we need to be thoughtful and considered in what we do. Collectively, the industry has aligned around that.”